The Conscious And The Unconscious In English Conversation Practice
Summary: English conversation practice
What is the best way to learn a new language? Today’s “Listen & learn” podcast is about English conversation practice. We talk about how your brain works when you learn a language and why our way of teaching English fluency works so well.
We also talk about learning through spaced repetition, using the power of your unconscious mind and mention a few additional resources that may help you speed up your English language learning.
Don’t forget that even though you might not like the podcast topic, Adept English has packed the podcast full of useful English vocabulary, spoken by a native English speaker at just the right pace for your brain to listen and learn. We also provide a free detailed written transcript of the podcast if you need to Google any words you don’t understand.
Audio Transcript: The Conscious And The Unconscious In English Conversation Practice
Hi there and welcome to the latest podcast from Adept English. We’re here to help you with your English language learning. We provide you with lots of listening materials – with explanations of the difficult parts – so that you can learn to understand spoken English, while hearing about interesting topics.
If you’ld like some English conversation practice, you will find our Adept English Course One really useful. There are lots of recordings about various topics – and after each one, you can listen to me run through the vocabulary, rather like I do on the podcasts. But in a lot more depth. These vocabulary recordings are really useful. It’s like having a one-to-one session with a private tutor, your own teacher and you will learn a lot from these lessons.
The Value of English Conversation Practice
But what’s different from the podcasts is that on Course One, we have English conversations between two different people, not just me speaking, so you get real English conversation practice. And each recorded conversation has with it another recording which runs through and explains the vocabulary used in the conversation. So with Course One, you can listen to the conversation, but probably not understand it first of all.
Then you listen to the vocabulary explanation, which will give you more understanding. And then you listen again a few more times to the recorded conversations. This means that what at first, seemed almost impossible to understand, becomes entirely understandable, with repeat listening.
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Conscious and Unconscious in Language Learning
This type of English conversation practice is superb! It’s wonderful for building your confidence. It’s quite satisfying to be able to listen to a recording, which perhaps at first you could hardly understand at all, and once you’ve put a little work in, you can understand everything. It’s better than real conversation, for building your confidence, ‘cause you can rewind and have another go. You can play it again. And when you learn like this, part of the learning is conscious. The word ‘conscious’, C-O-N-S-C-I-O-U-S means that there’s learning which you know you are doing, learning which you are aware of. But really importantly, you’re also using unconscious learning. ‘Unconscious’ means that you are unaware of the process, you don’t know it’s happening (or you’re not conscious of it) but it is happening, nevertheless. When you ride a bike or you swim, your brain is using its unconscious learning. You aren’t riding your bike, thinking about all the calculations that your brain is making, which way to turn your wheel to maintain your balance. None of this is conscious.
You do it without thinking about it – because you’ve practised. Riding a bike is now a skill which you use unconsciously. You’ve probably worked hard for it, you’ve probably fallen off your bike many times. But now it’s there, in your brain, safely in your unconscious. There are lots of ways in which your brain, the machine inside your head, learns unconsciously. And unconscious learning is really, really important when you learn a language. It’s important because it takes you away from that enemy of fluency! I’m not exaggerating there – the enemy of fluency – which is translation. Translating is when you step, word by word through a language, possibly with your dictionary in your hand. Translating is a very conscious activity – you have to think about every word. You’re conscious of the grammar and the spelling. Translating is fine, if this is what you’re asked to do as an exercise, as a piece of homework for your English course. And I’m not saying that you don’t learn by translating. But if you want to become fluent in a language, if you want to speak it fluently, then translating is not the way to go.
No matter how clever you are, no matter how intelligent you are, your brain cannot consciously translate words quickly enough to keep up with a real conversation. Even if you could have Google Translate somehow installed inside your brain, it wouldn’t be as good speaking a language automatically. You wouldn’t pick up the subtle things, it wouldn’t be as satisfying. And anyway – technology hasn’t got that far – you can’t have Google Translate installed in your brain. Not yet, anyway. So for fluency, you have to be able to ‘think’ in the language that you’re learning. So understanding the words is automatic, no translation necessary, because the English words have become part of you, part of your brain, part of your normal vocabulary, just like your own language. You don’t have to think about them – they’re just there, it’s automatic. So this type of English conversation practice is the most valuable. You can rewind it and listen again.
Why English Conversation Practice Counts
If you listen repeatedly to this type of English conversation practice – with an explanation given verbally, spoken to you in your ears, then this encourages the unconscious, automatic part of learning. There’s lots of material you can use for this. If your level of understanding is quite high, then films or TV with English subtitles is a good way of learning. If that’s too difficult, sometimes children’s programmes with English subtitles are quite good. But if you find that your English isn’t quite up to the level, if films are too difficult and you don’t want to watch children’s programmes, have a look at the courses we offer. Between the conversations on Course One, the articles on Course One – and our podcasts, Adept English tries to provide you with suitable listening material, so that you can practise. And this way of learning languages is what your brain is already designed to do. You’ve learned at least one language this way – your own language. And you may already be fluent in several languages. If so, your brain definitely knows how to do this. But the point is, your brain knows how to learn in this way, you just have to give it the opportunity, the right input, the right conditions and it’ll do the rest!
A ‘Call to Action’
So have a look at Course One. If you think that it might be too difficult for you, then have a look at our 500 Most Common Words Course. This is a whole listening course made out of only 500 words. The vocabulary on the whole course is limited to the 500 Most Common Words in English. The idea of this course is that you can actually do very well speaking English, quite a reasonable level, if you know the most common 500 words well enough to use them. So if you find the podcasts quite difficult, if the podcasts are a lot of work, and [they] have you translating, then this course may help you raise your level. If you learn the most common English words first of all – what a good use of your time! And on the 500 Most Common Words Course, there are stories and articles, but there is also some English conversation practice too.
It’s never too soon, to start listening to English conversation – and your automatic understanding, your move away from translation will happen much more quickly!
Anyway, enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.
PS: Don‘t forget our FREE 7 Rules Of Adept English Course
Don’t forget that we also offer a free language course and our paid courses. So there is no reason for you not to learn to speak English fluently the easy way, the way your brain naturally wants to learn.
We have recently published our podcasts as videos on Facebook & YouTube. I know we often say (video is not that useful for learning to speak because it’s a distraction!). There is a reason for us doing this. We have discovered that we can convert our transcripts into closed caption subtitles, and we made sure the video is not distracting viewers.
The transcript words appear on screen as Hilary speaks them in the video. This is a nice way for people who are English language beginners to learn. Listeners can pause the video and Google words they do not understand. It is also possible to listen to YouTube on your mobile (without looking at the video) so in some ways it is just another way to offer our audio podcasts to listeners on a different platform.
If you like this English podcast and want to know when the next podcast is published you can subscribe for an English podcast e-mail reminder.